Che Guevara liked to tell this little story about himself and the early months of the Cuban Rev olution. He told it, if not often, well – often enough. It always made Che laugh at himself and it always makes me laugh too, although it’s not funny in any kind of hilarious sense. It’s the kind of small joke you tell when you miss someone you never knew, because it can feel like a memory.
“A better world’s in birth – Let each stand in his place – The International Working Class Shall be the human race!”
Fidel Castro scheduled a meeting with his new Cabinet. He had recently fired the president of the National Bank and needed a replacement. Fidel had several people in mind, but he was in no rush. In fact, some of Cuba’s major bankers had been invited to stick around for a while at their customary capitalist wages, and a few of them had.
“Can I wear your hat tonight? Oh, come on!”
“I need a good economist”, said Fidel.
Che immediately raised his hand.
“I didn’t know you were an economist,” said Fidel.
“Oh!” said Che, “I thought you said you need a good communist.”
He got stuck with the job anyway.
Che started his studies off with calculus. (He already had an M.D. degree, having passed himself off as a doctor throughout his famous motorcycle trip around South America a full year before he actually graduated from medical school )
Although Che studied alone with his tutor, periodically a government official or educator joined the class for the duration of a specified topic. At first, Che asked these people to volunteer, but no one showed up. He had to order them to class to get them there:
Every day at 3:00 am.